Episodes and Lyric Pieces

By ROBERT KELLEY WEEKS. New York: Leypoldt and Holt.
MR. WEEKS’S sins are certainly not of a sort to make one very patient with him ; they have been committed so often, and by so many people, and have been so constantly discovered and exposed, that it seems a little intolerable in him to be guilty of them ; for he is a man of talent, with a faculty for original expression. Yet, though every line of his blank verse reeks of Tennyson, and almost every phrase, epithet, and mental attitude suggests him, and nearly every light is reflected from him, one cannot help feeling that Mr. Weeks is something of a poet on his own account; and reading other pieces, one finds a grace and beauty in his sentiment, which will not let him be roughly or mercilessly used by honest criticism. In quantity the case is quite against him. The great part of his verse is imitative, as little redeemed by new or authentic touches as any imitative verse that we know. But in quality, the affair is not so bad. Three or four pieces, perhaps not so many, make us feel that here is a spring from the heart of nature and not a mere pipe (if Mr. Weeks will forgive a figure not meant in disrespect) from which the Tennysonian fluid, laid on nowadays in all minds with the modern improvements, can be drawn at will. Nothing in his volume, we believe, suggested this fact till we came to a poem called “A Winter Evening,” and nothing then so much as the lines,
“Along the moss-grown shaky wall,
The gray-green mossy rocks that sleep
Luxurious in the flattering light
Of sunshine all day long, and keep
Warm sides to feel of in the night.”
Here, at least, we believed was something that had come to the poet through his own flesh anti blood, and not through any one else’s decasyllabics; and we were quite willing to like, when we reached it, the pretty little fancy in

“GREEN-HOUSE FLOWERS.

“’T is too late to find her flowers
Such as 1 should rather give —
Such as sad and sunlit hours
Equally have taught to live.
“ How can these, that never guessed
How the evil helps the good —
How can these to her suggest
Aught of what I wish they could ?
“ How can these that never felt
Doubt and fear and hope deferred,
Ere the snows began to melt,
Ere the frozen earth was stirred;
“ How can these that never thrilled
In the midst of their distress,
With the hope of hope fulfilled —
How can these my thought express?
“ Yet, because perhaps they may
Please her once or twice to see,
Let them go and have their day,
Happier than they ought to be ! ”
There is also a good sonnet, and Mr. Weeks’s own, called “ In the Meadow ” ; and here are some lines better yet, and testifying delicate observation and sensitiveness : —

“RARA AVIS.

“ Standing in shade, beside a path that lay
Full in the sunlight of the afternoon,
A gush of song from some bird far away
I heard arise and sink again as soon ;
“And still I listened, but no more I heard,
And all I saw was on tlie sunny ground
The flying shadow of an unseen bird,
No sooner come, than gone without a sound.
“ And so a song that I have never heard
Surpasses all that I shall ever hear,
And by the shadow of a vanished bird
The rest are darkened and not very dear.”
As for nearly all the other poems, it seems a pity that they should have been printed ; or if they must he printed, that the poet — who knows as well as any reader that the inspiration is not his —should not avow his imitation, and frankly label his pieces, “ In the manner of ——.” We do not know whether we are more or less aggrieved with Mr. Weeks, because, as we have shown, he can write poetry of his own.